War of the Rebellion: Serial 006 Page 0642 OPERATIONS IN W. FLA., S. ALA., S. MISS., AND LA. Chapter XVI.

Search Civil War Official Records

3rd. Until the iron-clad gunboats Louisiana and Mississippi should he ready for service, it was indispensably necessary to obstruct the navigation of the Mississippi river between forts Jackson and Saint Philip. The raft completed under General Lovell's direction was adequate for the purpose while in position, but it was swept away, and left the river unimpeded, wither by reason of some error in its construction or neglect in preventing the accumulation of drift, or because of insuperable mechanical difficulties, as to which this court feels unprepared to give an opinion. General Lovell communicated to the Government no opinion as to the insecurity of the raft nor any apprehension that it might be swept away, nor did he immediately make known that fact when it occurred. In this it is considered that he was remiss in his duty.

4th. When the raft was swept away, General Lovell, with great energy, immediately endeavored to replace it, and partially succeeded, but, without fault on his part, this last obstruction was broken by the carelessness of vessels of the river-defense fleet colliding with it any by fire rafts drifting against it, and by the failure of the guard boats to protect it against nigh expeditions of the enemy.

5th. The non-completion of the iron-clad gunboats Louisiana and Mississippi made it impossible for the Navy to co-operate efficiently with General Lovell.

6th. The so-called river-defense fleet was wholly useless as a means of resistance to the enemy, for which General Lovell was in nowise responsible.

7th. Under the existing circumstances the passage of the forts by the enemy's fleet could not have been prevented by General Lovell with any means under his control, and, the forts being passed, the fall of New Orleans was inevitable and its evacuation a military necessity.

8th. When the first raft was broken, and the danger of New Orleans thus became imminent, all necessary preparations should have been made for removing the public and private property available for military uses, and when the second obstruction was swept away the removal of such property should have been commenced immediately. The failure to take these timely steps caused the losses of property that occurred, but there was comparatively little property lost for which General Lovell was responsible.

9th. The failure of General Lovell to give proper orders to Brigadier General M. L. Smith for the retirement of his command from Chalmette is not sufficiently explained, and is therefore regarded a serious error.

10th. The proposition of General Lovell to return to New Orleans with his command was not demanded by his duty as a soldier, involving, as it did, the useless sacrifice of himself and his troops, though it explains itself upon the ground of sympathy for the population and a natural sensitiveness to their reproaches.

11th. General Lovell displayed great energy and a untiring industry in performing his duties. His conduct was marked by all the coolness and self-possession due to the circumstances and his position, and he evinced a high capacity for command and the clearest foresight in many of his measures for the defense of New Orleans.

The court respectfully reports that its assembly was delayed by the failure of its president to receive his orders in due time, and that its session was protracted by the taking of testimony, under the order of the War Department, as to the conduct of naval officers on duty in Department Numbers 1. This order was rescinded, thus rendering irrelevant and useless much of the labor of the court. The testimony referred to,